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The last few months have seen Pocket Books expanding their BUFFY fiction range beyond the usual novels and novelisations, with the UNSEEN crossover trilogy, the LOST SLAYER serial novel and now this, an anthology about previous Slayers.

Like many anthologies, TALES OF THE SLAYER, VOL. 1 is a pretty hit and miss affair. However, with only seven stories, there's nowhere nearly as much room for failure as there is in a much larger collection such as the (non-BUFFY) DARK TERRORS series.

The collection spans two and a half thousand years, from The Battle of Marathon in 490 BC through to Florida in the 1950s, and many of the historical backdrops will be familiar to anyone with a basic knowledge of history (or to your average DOCTOR WHO fan).

While Pocket Books' previous attempt at a BUFFY novel that didn't feature the title character at least had Spike and Dru, here the six authors (Yvonne Navarro contributes two tales) have only the concepts of a Slayer, her Watcher and the Watchers Council to build a story around. This still has potential, but the downside is that - especially in a short story - there's not a lot of space in which to develop the character of the Slayer and to serve up a threat that does justice to the idea that she alone in her generation will stand up to the forces of darkness.

The concept of "one dies, another is called" means that it's difficult to find any real attachment to any of the Slayers here, especially since most of the stories revolve around their last battles. Yet disappointing, few of them get to go out with any style or dignity. There's no battles against major vampires here - although there isn't really the room to develop them anyway - and while one or two of them at least get to do a Good Thing before being killed, others come out really badly (Yvonne Navarro's stupidly ill-prepared Slayer walking to her death being probably the worst example). It's also possible to predict the ending to at least half the stories here (and I'm not just talking about the fact that the Slayer dies), which is rarely a good thing.

There are a couple of half-decent stories in TALES OF THE SLAYER, VOL. 1, but as a collection, I found it a bit on the disappointing side. (Although at least Nancy Holder steered clear of using Lucy sodding Hanover!) BACK TO THE TOP

TALES OF THE SLAYER, VOL. 1

Written by GREG RUCKA,
CHRISTIE GOLDEN,
YVONNE NAVARRO, NANCY HOLDER,
DORANNA DURGIN, MEL ODOM

POCKET BOOKS

£6.99


RATING: 5/10


NEXT VOLUME:
TALES OF THE SLAYER, VOL. 2